01/24/2013 10:06 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What Is Literacy? The First Three National Ambassadors for Young People's Literature Answer

The first three National Ambassadors for Young People's Literature, Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson, and Walter Dean Myers, gave me the honor of appearing on Brain Burps About Books' 100th podcast episode (you'll find the player at the end of this post). I do believe they were the perfect choice, and I'm thrilled to share this special event with you in which we talk about literacy, reading for kids, slime, and ... Snooki (and, funnily enough, that was not a dig at Snooki. Or slime).

The First National Ambassador for Young People's Literature,

Jon Scieszka

 Jon's site

In the interview with Jon, you'll hear about
  • the velvet-lined ambassadorial helicopter
  • what Jarrett J. Krosoczka is doing that I couldn't reveal at the time of the interview
  • what one must do when one meets the ambassador
  • what the best part of being the first ambassador was
  • how the ambassadorship needs sponsorship - DO YOU HEAR THAT, CHEERIOS?
  • Jon's recommendations to get kids reading:
    • Let each child choose what she or he wants to read. I'll never forget my own son's reaction reading Little House on the Prairie (a favorite of many readers): "Are they really going to spend this whole chapter making a door?"
    • Expand the definition of "reading" to include non-fiction, humor, graphic novels, magazines, action adventure, and, yes, even websites. It's the pleasure of reading that counts; the focus will naturally broaden. A boy won't read shark books forever.
    • If a kid doesn't like one book, don't worry about finishing it. Start another. The key is helping children find what they like.
    • Be a good reading role model. Show kids what you like to read, what you don't like to read, how you choose what you read. Let them see you reading.
    • Avoid demonizing television, computer games, and new technologies. Electronic media may compete for kids' attention, but we're not going to get kids reading by badmouthing other entertainment. Admit that TV and games can do things books can't. Talk about how reading can make a world in ways that movies and games can't.
    Guys Read: Funny Business

The Second National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Katherine Paterson

In the interview with Katherine Paterson, you'll hear about
  • living different lives through reading
  • dictators and reading
  • Snooki. Yes, that Snooki.
  • the connection between reading and democracy
  • her platform
  • how I was scared to talk to her before which now seems utterly ridiculous
  • the first thing she ever published
Bridge to Terabithia (Movie Tie-in)

The Third National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Walter Dean Myers

Other podcasts with Walter Dean Myers

Walter on NPR


In the interview with Walter Dean Myers, you'll hear about
  • reading being as important as other health needs
  • what RIF learned about lower income families and reading
  • what one inmate told me during my work in the prison
  • how to spread the gospel of kidlit to people who aren't in the kidlit world?
  • what we can do specifically to do that.

I use this travel site to map the places the show has been downloaded. I'm happy to report that as of today, it has been downloaded in over half the world's countries!

Brain Burps About Books has been downloaded in 1/2 the world!